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Source Types Integration Kit


In a digital world, many of the familiar cues that tell us whether we are looking at a book, newspaper, or magazine fade away. Students may have trouble distinguishing between a webpage and an article that is displayed on a website. Additionally, this may be the first time that many students are exposed to some of the source types that are common in academia, such as scholarly journal articles. Capitalize on students’ eagerness to take their learning to the next level by exposing them to the variety of source types used at the college level and helping them to understand the different types of information contained within each. 

In this lesson, students will explore the differences between six different types of sources, considering the content each type tends to contain, along with the purpose an author might have for creating that source type, and the purpose a student might have for using that source type. This would be a great lesson to incorporate into your class if you have an larger assignment (paper, project, etc.) that requires the use of multiple types of sources.

Learning Objectives

  1. Students will begin to identify the type of different sources commonly used in college assignments, based on their characteristics. Source types may include: websites, books, or articles from newspapers, magazines, trade publications or scholarly journals. 
  2. Students will distinguish between source type and method of access, understanding that these are separate entities. 

A librarian can come to your class to run this lesson for you, or a librarian can customize a lesson for your class based around your unit of study or assignment requirements. Please contact us if you are interested in this option.

If you prefer to cover this information literacy topic on your own, you will find all the plans and materials you need below.

Class Materials

NOTE: It is strongly recommended that you complete the Authority activity before doing this Source Types lesson. The two can be done during separate class periods.

This lesson begins with a small group activity; groups then report their results to the whole class. Afterwards, the instructor leads the class in a discussion. After class, a low-stakes quiz is assigned as homework for more practice with identifying source types. Class time: 30-45 minutes

Canvas Quiz

This 20 question quiz should be assigned to students after the in-class activity, to give them more practice with identifying source types found through the open internet and library databases. The in-class activity only provides a brief introduction (identifies only 6 sources as a class); practice will be valuable for novice researchers. We recommend keeping this a low-stakes quiz, for example by using Complete/Incomplete grading.

Please email if you would like to add this quiz to your Canvas course. We will share it with you directly through Canvas.

See the Additional Resources page for digital handouts you can post to Canvas that will help students learn to identify different source types online.


Students will find multiple sources on a topic and answer questions about each source. This is a good scaffolding step to help students be successful on the larger assignment that requires the use of multiple types of sources. This will also allow you to give feedback on whether the selected sources are appropriate before students write their paper/create their project incorporating the sources.

NOTE: Students should complete the Searching & Finding activity or have instruction from a librarian about using library search tools before doing this assignment.

Did you use any of these materials?

Please complete this quick one-minute survey letting us know which materials you used. We use this information for assessment and reporting statistics to the IPEDS survey. You can include optional feedback on how our lessons worked for your students, to help us improve our lessons and materials. Thank you!

Information Literacy Integrations Survey